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Archive for June 4th, 2009

Suicide, Incarceration? Yes, “it’s a guy thing,” but let’s talk SENSE as to why! (2006, “TheBoysProject.net”)

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Finally, some SENSE, facts, (vs. rhetoric, or paid-for data), from at least ONE man concerned about the welfare of men and boys (and, as a result, our nation). . .on “The State of American Manhood.

 

Thomas G. Mortenson, Senior Scholar, The Pell Institute for the Study of Higher Education, and Higher Education Policy Analyst has my attention, because his talk makes sense with experience AND data.  Rather than rhetoric and trying to scapegoat an entire gender, or system, this newsletter is full of charts and data addressing the very real problem.

The 2006 newsletter No. 171, from “Postsecondary.org” is attached as a PDF to this post

If you are limited in time (or patience with my writing style), PLEASE read my quotes in italic blue ( which discusses higher education as the former land-ownership access to the middle class, and participation in the US economy) from Mr. Mortenson’s blog, and the about 24-page, black & white, chart-filled, common-sense pdf.    . . . It will help you come this June 20th, cut through some of the propaganda!

I will listen to any man or woman who will acknowledge the problem in a sane and non-volatile manner, and state some of the potential causes more sensibly than to blame an entire gender for wanting, say, justice, or employment, or to protect themselves or their children from violence.  Who does not come at the reader with hate, or religious bias, at least that I can see.  And whose personal background is not a trail of fundraising and rabble raising with a religion already known to be rough on women.

From his blog, “postsecondaryopportunity.blogspot.com“:

My endowment gift to the Pell Institute is an unrestricted gift to support and advance the research agenda of the Institute. I decided to do so a decade ago because closing the gap in higher educational opportunity between those born into low-income families and those born into affluent families would not be accomplished in my lifetime. In fact this gap has been widening almost steadily since the advent of regressive social policy in the United States around 1980

My personal motivation for endowing the Pell Institute with my gift reflects my family’s story of what America has meant to us. {{Note:  this man spent his own money, not taxpayers!, in attempting to address a social problem}}

Family history has become a lifelong hobby, and I am not done yet with either life or that assignment. 

 In 1975 I went to Europe to see where my ancestors had come from and try to understand why they left their homelands for America. Of the five places I visited one, in Prussia (now Poland) I knew the motivation to emigrate was to escape conscription into Otto von Bismark’s armies. These were draft dodgers.

But in the other four places I was stunned to find that my ancestors had lived in the shadow of castles. My ancestors were share croppers, or serfs, and did not own the land they farmed. They worked for the people who lived in the castles and owned the land. These places included Sweden (Skane), East Germany (Neuenkirchen), West Germany (Oberderdingen) and Switzerland (Graubunden). My farmer ancestors saw that good farm land was available free or at least cheap in the United States, and so they left and settled in Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and South Dakota.

When these ancestors came to America between about 1840 and 1880 they came as farmers, and opportunity in the agrarian economy of that era meant owning and working your own land. America provided that opportunity in abundance and my ancestors benefited directly from the opportunities America offered but which were not available in Sweden, Prussia, Neubrandenburg, Mecklinburg and Switzerland. 

My ancestors also benefited from the developing educational system America decided it needed.

The modern equivalent to the opportunity of land ownership that my ancestors sought when they emigrated from Europe for America is higher education. Since about 1973 access to the American middle class is through higher education. Other work that paid well in agriculture, manufacturing and some other industries has been replaced with work in other industries such as education and health care, business and professional services, leisure and hospitality services and other service industries that require higher education.

Today both immigrants and natives can prosper only if they have the education and training that only higher education provides. Higher education has become the gatekeeper to the American middle class experience. And under regressive policy choices that access has been largely limited to those that inherit privilege by their birth. The United States is becoming the kind of country that my ancestors fled when they left Europe for the opportunities available in America. And Europe is starting to look more like the progressive America that we once were. 

THIS SPEAKS TO ME.  I entered marriage educated, well-educated, and took an extra 4 years to explore what the public school and my family did NOT provide for me, a sense of purpose, and faith (“God”) to the education.  I already knew to share music was my joy and intention since age 15.  But I had no answers or system of reference to what had happened in our own family, including 4 divorces, a sudden death, and why no one ever talked about “God” while they sent the girls (only) to church.  There was in fact, almost no talk of life whatsoever, it was just lived, and experienced.  No long-term planning, no service orientation, no deep thought as to the “whys” of life ever took place.  No talk about relationships, men & women, families, life, community — almost anything.  We simply absorbed education and literature, privileged travels and arts & leisure.  I sought this elsewhere, in a B.Th., and then settled in, I thought to marriage.  It did not occur to search for meaning to parents who didn’t even believe there was a God.  My extended communities consisted of professional and school associates, and roommates, etc. v ia work.

MARRIAGE WAS EXPERIENCED AS A DECADE OF INTENTIONAL PUT-DOWN AND ATTEMPT TO “EVEN THE BALANCE” BY CHOPPING OFF PARTS OF MY LIFE AND PSYCHE (AND TO AN EXTENT, OUR DAUGHTERS’ ALSO), SO AS NOT TO EMBARASS DAD.  RATHER THAN DAD, AS WE HAD, LIFTING HIMSELF UP BY READING, STUDY, AND EFFORT.

DIVORCE & CUSTODY WAS EXPERIENCED, IN FAMILY COURT, THE SAME WAY.  AS I CONTINUED TO SEARCH FOR ANSWERS WHY (IN THIS REALM), I WAS SHOCKED AND DISTURBED TO FIND MY COUNTRY ENDORSING A VIRTUAL STATE RELIGION BASED ON GENDER AND FEAR OF THE FEMININE.  LOOKING FURTHER, THE ECONOMY APPEARS TO BE DRIVEN BY — AND ABSOLUTELY REQUIRE — CLASS SEPARATION BY EDUCATIONAL DYSFUNCTION.  THE USA HAS BECOME THE WORLD’S LARGEST INCARCERATOR, AND WASTING ITS OWN TALENT.  WOMEN ARE FLEEING IT FOR SAFETY AND CIVIL RIGHTS, ALTHOUGH WHERE SAFETY MAY BE IS QUESTIONABLE.  IT IS EXPORTING DYSFUNCTION WORLDWIDE THROUGH A NUMBER OF INSTITUTIONS, AND AT PUBLIC EXPENSE.  

THOMAS MORTENSON OBSERVES AND DOCUMENTS SOME OF THIS THIS.  I HOPE YOU READ.

Note:  I am not federally funded, and cannot spend too long adjusting each post, the dysfunction I speak of still affects my life, my daughters’ and my family of origin’s, and it is tending to drain our creative productive energies to fighting over this issue of justice, and the right to keep family secrets (which include a history of DV on both sides, generationally), and in general dumb down and impoverish my own family line.  I was in a service industry, one which helped lift people up by empowering them to do music, well, together.  That experience, and the music people were exposed to, enriched all of us by the doing.

I had to stop to fight this battle, and hope that we will not continue recycling through dumbing-us-down any longer.  As of this post, my own daughter is about to enter a top-notch university in California.  That graduation is colored by my need to SKIP it for safety reasons, a recent parental abduction to avoid child support and “win,” and a family refusal to recognize that alternatives to the public school education work, and are viable for single mothers.  As well as a refusal to acknowledge the role of fundamentalist-driven misogyny in the current trouble.  

Carpet-baggers and profiteers have ALWAYS thrived after war and in situations of strife and chaos.  Sometimes they don’t wait to find such situations, but help create them.  It is not enough to chase the ambulances, but to actually create the accidents.

Mr. Mortenson appears to notice that the educational system is such, at least for boys (I say, for girls as well, it doesn’t help us, at this point).  I maintain, at this point, that it is the accident-creater that is driving this ecomony.  Our present economy feeds off dysfunction and dependency, and literally REQUIRES it.  Whereas, formerly, it was a credit and pride to a family to be able to feed themselves, and then some.

 THIS scholar & newsletter ACKNOWLEDGES:  A lot of the “fatherlessness” and disengagement is apparent in part from, the USA having become the world’s largest Imprisoner.  THEN, he relates it to higher education for men.

So, Mr. Mortensen here begins by ADMITTING we have a problem, and naming it.

By a broad array of economic, social, and civic measures, a growing section of American men are in serious trouble.  For decades men have been disengaging from the labor force, disengaging from children they have fathered**, getting into serious trouble with the law, disengaging from civic roles, and even killing themselves at record rates.  Our traditional notions of economically productive, socially responsible, family oriented, civically engaged and happy adult men apply to a rapidly shrinking share of American men.”

**The typical father’s rights activist would often blame this on either (1) women, for divorcing or not marrying, or (2) the family court system, as well as of course, those feminists.  This had my attention immediately it is NOT inflammatory, but acknowledges a problem exists.

Page 19-20:

Incarceration is a guy thing…  90.1 % of those behind bars in the US are men…[Citing 2004/2005 statistics, and Federal/State/Local, as to local, he writes:  “These men were in jail for property and violent crimes — acts that deserved punishment.”

FR solution:  reduce their child support and increase their re-engagement with the children they fathered, without addressing WHY these people were in jail, or whether their behavior was sufficiently safe.  Work-around:  fund supervised visitation centers..  THIS author’s solution:  Note this history and characteristics of US imprisoning men, and relate it to education.  He NOTes that it began to increase rapidly in 1975, and that this is “attributable in part to Rockefeller drug laws in NY State, that introduced mandatory, long sentences for drug use.

I knew this from reading libertarians who oppose/question drug laws (as well as violence against women laws) poking around the origins of family law, and finding out that one reason low-income people are so streamlined {{via mediation}} through the system (those without money which could be soaked for other services, such as custody evaluators, etc.) was that the courts and prisons were overcrowded because of the drug issues.  This is rarely a topic in “responsible fatherhood” press.

As of this newsletter, 2006

of 213 countries, the 5 with highest incarceration rates are, in order:  USA (top), Russian Federation (2nd), St. Kitts & Nevis (who?), Bermuda (UK), and Virgin Islands (USA)

 Costs of incarceration:

(summarized quote);  While experts vary, typically the direct operational costs are in the range of $20-25,000 per prisoner per year.  At (XXX) prisoners, the annual costs is in the range of $43.6 BILLION to 54.5 BILLION per year.

 For comparison, the annual discretionary (only, not “total”) grants for the Health and Human Services Dept. (2008) of the USA is cited as $40 billion.  How many citizens know what that $40 BILLION is going towards?  Not even the GAO does, we are now hearing (General Accountability Office), whose job it is to know.  And report.  

Just imagine if some way were found to avert the criminality — or major and increasing incarceration rate — among American men. . .  Perhaps these two figures might be cancelling each other out?  Is promoting responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage at the adult level (one figure I heard says, $150 million/year allocated) and in prisons and courtrooms as sensible as addressing foundational issues of the educational system?  Is pouring more MONEY into the K-12 system going to fix it, or are there some design flaws?  Is the exodus of “religion” from the public life (to be compensated for by allowing religious conservatives to run major US agencies) the problem?  

I think Mr. Mortenson may be on the right track.  Unfortunately, he’s of retirement age, and others will have to carry on, let’s hope.

So, Consider:  “The Boys Project”

 

 

I am among many mothers where educational choice became a battlefield.  I have a unique perspective from having taught many years before becoming a mother, then homeschooled our own daughters during the marriage, and having forcibly had children jerked in and out of different educational venues afterwards (while continuing, til recently, to teach kids across a spectrum myself).  Because homeschooling had been challenged in family court, I continued to read up and try to ascertain WHY an educated (supposedly) adult could come to equate the word “credentialed” with “competent” and remain unable or unwilling to accept evidence underfoot.

~ ~ ~ ~

No, I’m not selling anything.  I just found a male person that has something relevant and non-inflammatory to say on boyhood/manhood

This talks about the EDUCATION.

This report below addresses the problem from a different perspective — that of education.  Combined with his blog, it makes sense.  He tells how public education is failing boys.  It is ALSO failing girls, even when they succeed in it, and not addressed in this either is how the shooters, in public schools, are uniformly (to my knowledge) male, and their targets commonly female.  Schools are failing girls, too.  There is probably a message here about the school system’s assault on individual autonomy.  

But, the dialogue (and charts) are at least above the level of “feminazi bitch family-haters, and poor, underfunded fatherhood woes” dialogue typical of the press these days.  And some of the Congressional initiatives, too.  At least let’s toss into the pot some other factors. 

My ex husband, non-college grad, became an education expert a few years after I filed the restraining order.  The theme of our divorce, as well as our marriage, continued to focus on repeated put-downs, religiously motivated.  The pattern was:  I would act, it would be undone, under some external threat or declaration.  The result is:  action produces punishment, inaction (which would ostensibly appear safer) produces poverty.  Nice choice.  I think that the public education system failed us both — me, female, through success, him, male through failure, and overall, in manners that have been addressed in other books.  This system does NOT support the families, and were it not so politicized to start with, POSSIBLY there wouldn’t be so many reactionary movements to it, giving a bad name to others who simply exited the system because they had a better alternative available elsewhere.

 

Consider:

A report from ‘The Boys Project” – “The_State_of_American_Manhood

 

.

I forgot where I ran across this one.  Who cares?  But the authors say I can post if I credit them.  So here is A Report from The Boys Project — and it’s not talking about responsible fatherhood (aren’t you BORED with that?), but some very REAL issues that existed before the ones that are being artificially prophesied, and then produced, through my own federal government.  

I cannot reproduce the pages on this post, so please look yourself.

They are talking about inequality in the public school classroom.

Now we are on my turf, and there is some truth to this.  However, our nation is not going to permit the obvious solution — understanding the insanity between age-separated co-ed grade levels for children, kept in rooms, from K-8th grade at a minimum.

See pages 19 & 20.  Scan and enjoy.  I will also post from one author’s blog.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What this is:

  • A Sept. 2006 Newsletter 171, “Postsecondary Education Opportunity,” with the reference to “postsecondaryopportunity.blogspot.com,” which I recommend (and may quote) and “postsecondary.org”
  • It is a 24-page pdf WE SHOULD READ filled with graphs, statements, and figures not common to the men’s rights/women’s rights dialogue.
  • Thomas G. Mortenson is a Senior Scholar at the Pell Institute for Higher Education.

 

Why didn’t Congress vote in 1998 and 1999 to hold a National Let’s Talk About Higher Education Summit with as much urgency and drama as they did about “fathers” per se?

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